Belfast Telegraph

Parades: Video shows moment police attacked after Union flag loyalist march in Belfast

Footage shows officer knocked to the ground

By John Mulgrew

Footage has emerged showing a police officer being knocked to the ground in north Belfast after thousands of loyalists marched from the city centre during a protest parade.

The attack happened as trouble flared after officers blocked loyalist protesters at the at the junction of Tennent Street and Crumlin Road in north Belfast, after marchers paraded from the city centre.

Two police officers were injured - one hospitalised after being knocked unconscious - during the ensuing tension on Saturday afternoon.

Video footage has shown the moment one of the injured officers was knocked to the ground.

Alliance councillor John Blair condemned those who attacked the police.

"Attacking the police is completely unacceptable. I hope the two injured officers will make speedy recoveries," he said.

Police have confirmed a 35-year-old man is due in court later this month, charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm in relation to one of the assaults.

The north Belfast stand-off happened after a planned loyalist protest of between 1,000 and 2,000 people made its was from City Hall.

But those who turned out to parade - one year on from a council decision to limit the flying of the Union flag - flouted a Parades Commission decision to leave the city centre by 12.30pm

Crowds continued to gather as bandsmen played, with hosts of Union flags on show.

Footage shows the parade heading through the city centre on Saturday

The PSNI said those who broke the determination by staying at City Hall until 1pm could face prosecution.

Police had warned those gathered they were now part of an illegal parade shortly after midday - with large matrix signs also stating the breach.

Dozens of Land Rovers remained on standby heading towards the Carrick Hill area of north Belfast before heading towards Woodvale.

But while the protest blocked off the front of the City Hall, hundreds of shoppers filled out the Christmas market.

There were fears among traders that yet another protest parade could have a devastating impact on trade - especially on the run-up to the festive period.

Protesters left City Hall at around 1.15pm - clearing the city centre by 1.35pm, over an hour of the Parades Commission determination.

There had been hopes among organisers that numbers could reach 10,000.

The protest was held to mark the first anniversary of a council decision to limit the flying of the Union flag - after it was given the go-ahead by the Parades Commission earlier this month.

The parading watchdog had ruled it should depart City Hall by noon and be clear of the junction of Royal Avenue and North Street by 12.30pm.

Flyers circulated online had encouraged people to gather at 1pm for the 'human rights parade', which will march to the Woodvale area of north Belfast.

The latest protest renewed fears of an impact on traders in the city centre - already suffering after months of Union flag protests and demonstrations since last Christmas.

This march took place on one of the busiest trading days of the year.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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